Trump’s moves will forever change the map of the Middle East

By Claude Salhani

There is no mistaking it, we are living through a landmark moment in the tumultuous recent history of the Middle East.

US military planners working in the sub-basements of the Pentagon and the generals and colonels running operations in northern Syria are implementing the direct order from the US commander-in-chief to immediately withdraw US forces from the northern Syrian theatre of operations.

This sudden move by the United States places the Syrian Kurds in great jeopardy. Since US President Donald Trump announced the retreat of US forces, the Kurds, who have fought valiantly alongside US troops against the Islamic State, feel they have been stabbed in the back.

In Washington, cries against this sudden retreat came from Republican senators, who have traditionally stood at the president’s side.

The decision to order US forces out of the area, a decision made on a whim by the president and without consulting the military, created a political firestorm in Washington and havoc in the concerned region.

This knee-jerk act of political and military insanity unleashed new demons in the region, demons that are very likely to remain there for a long, long time.

As US troops, aboard their armoured carriers, drove through Kurdish towns on their way out of the region, residents pelted them with potatoes.

At the same time planners working in the Pentagon were going over their plans, Russian military planners, some 7,800km away, must have been breaking out the vodka to celebrate an amazing victory for mother Russia.

Indeed, in paving the way for Russian troops to reach the Mediterranean, as he has done, Trump achieved for Russia what the tsars and the communists failed to do. Thanks to Trump, the Russians finally get their much-desired, year-round, warm-water ports on the Mediterranean.

This is strategically of utter importance to the Russians, who feel vulnerable when their navy becomes challenged when North Sea ports are inoperable during the long, cold days of winter. So important was this issue for Russia, then under the flag of the Soviet Union, that it justified the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The importance of the Russians reaching the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean must not be underestimated. While it may be too early to absorb the full effect of events that have just unfolded, years down the road we will come to realise this was on the scale of a historic event such as the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 when the maps of the Middle East were carved up by colonial powers.

We are too close to the event to properly judge its importance but in years to come, when historians write the final draft of the conflict under way along the stretch of land dividing northern Syria from southern Turkey, they will realise that the United States handing over this strategically important piece of real estate to the Russians was a monumental mistake.

Here we debunk another false claim by Trump — that no one knows real estate as well as he does. Yes, the president is wrong once again. Any third-rate real estate investor or developer would have realised the importance of this piece of real estate that Trump allowed the Russians to grab without putting up a bid.

Still wonder why Trump refuses to release copies of his tax returns?

As far as the Middle East is concerned, this is a sad event in which once again Kurds, this time the Syrian Kurds, pay the price of Western incompetence and failure to grasp the reality of life in the region.

The sad thing is that the mayhem and killing of innocents could have — and should have — been avoided. The 10-year-old girl whose brother was killed during a Turkish air strike in which she lost a leg did not have to suffer those losses.

Thank you, Mr Trump, for your disservice.

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